The TINE cooperative

The milk farmers who are members and supply the milk also own TINE. In fact, TINE has a total of 11,400 owners.

In a cooperative, the owners receive their share of the profits through the payment they receive for the milk they supply. Each member owns one share in TINE. TINE currently has around 11,400 members (owners) and 9,000 cooperative farms.

Rausjødalen Setermeieri is both Norway’s and northern Europe’s oldest cooperative dairy, and Europe’s first communal dairy north of the Alps. Rausjødalen Setermeieri is regarded as the birthplace of TINE and laid the foundations for the development of the dairy cooperative in Norway.

What is a cooperative?

In a cooperative, the owners receive part of the profit based on the sales that they have made, not a return on invested capital. It is the farmers’ milk deliveries that form the basis for running TINE cooperatively.

  • The advantage for the owners is guaranteed milk sales to a modern industry that works to achieve the highest possible payment for the raw ingredient and democratic control over the company.

  • The advantage for the industry is stable, long-term ownership.

A cooperative is an organisational form similar to other company forms. A cooperative is the most effective organisation for many small companies that need to perform certain tasks together. It looks after the interests of its members as purchasers and sellers of goods and services.

Principles of cooperatives

The TINE cooperative is based on the principles of cooperatives:   

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic control by the membership
  • The financial participation of members
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Training, education and information
  • Cooperation between cooperative societies
  • Social responsibility

Cooperative societies are voluntary organisations, open to anyone who can make use of their services and who are willing to accept the responsibilities associated with membership, regardless of gender, social status, race, or political or religious affiliation.

Cooperative societies are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in establishing guidelines and decisions. Elected representatives are responsible to the membership. In primary cooperatives all the members have the same right to vote – one member, one vote. Cooperative organisations are also organised in this democratic manner at higher levels.

The members contribute equally to, and control democratically, the cooperative society’s capital. Normally, part of the capital constitutes the cooperative society’s communal assets. If interest is paid on the share capital, this is limited. The members can allocate any surplus for one or more of the following purposes: Development of the cooperative, possibly by allocating reserves that may be partially tied up, fulfilling the members’ needs for the cooperative society’s activities, and supporting other activities approved by the members.

Cooperative societies are autonomous and self-reliant organisations controlled by their members. If cooperative societies enter into agreements with other organisations or public bodies, or obtain external capital, this is done on terms that safeguard the democratic control of the membership and maintain the independence of the cooperative.

Cooperative societies work to help train and educate their members, elected representatives, managers and employees to ensure effective development of the societies. They inform the public, particularly young people and opinion-formers, of the special nature and benefits of cooperatives.

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively – and strengthen the cooperative movement – by cooperating with local, regional, national and international organisations.

At the same time as focusing on the needs of their members, cooperative societies work for the sustainable development of society through guidelines approved by the members.

Differences between cooperative societies and limited companies:.


Cooperative society – SA

Limited company – AS


Society owned by its members

  • One member, one vote
  • The annual meeting consists of owners and employees

Election by member participation

Open membership – anyone can become a member

Stakeholder organisation for members

Company owned by shareholders

  • The general meeting consists of shareholders only (not employees)
  • Votes according to number of shares


Return based on collaboration with the members

All the members are treated the same

Best possible price for the cooperative’s product

Return based on equity/capital investment

Best possible return on invested share capital


Controlled in accordance with the Cooperative Societies Act and the cooperative’s statutes

Controlled in accordance with the Limited Liability Companies Act and the company’s statutes